Hagen Gorge, WA

Hagen Gorge is on a small tributary to the Washougal River in southwestern Washington. About 3-4 miles long, this creek can be characterized by class IV boogie-water boofs and slides with various vertical class IV/V drops dispersed throughout. There is no gauge to the creek, so it’s all about proper guess-work. On our trip, the region had seen heavy rain for two days prior, and the moisture was only supposed to continue.

From the put-in, the run starts out with a mini-adventure, hiking in through what a few years ago was a clearcut. The trees have grown substantially since then, making navigation a little more difficult, particularly when you’re wearing a GoPro on your head. Nevertheless, once you make it to the creek, the fun begins.

Classic Hagen Gorge Scenery

Classic Hagen Gorge Scenery

Upon putting on the creek, the sun came out, and we immediately realized we had been duped: Hagen Gorge was low. In fact so low, the first few rapids felt as though we were all in an MMA fight-being bounced around between boulders, finding the best line through a boulder-jumbled mess of a rapid. Needless to say, we reached the first landmark of the trip, about 1/3 mile downstream from the put-in: a mini-logjam to be portaged on the left.

Portaging the logjam about 1/3 mile downstream from the put-in

Portaging the logjam about 1/3 mile downstream from the put-in

Below the portage, the creek starts to steepen, as drops became more vertical, and the first falls is reached: Haagendaaz Falls. With low water, we all had interesting lines, and a few of us went for laps.

Haagendaaz Falls

Haagendaaz Falls

Soon after Haagendaaz, you roll up to Euphoria Falls, my favorite rapid on the run. Euphoria falls is a two-parter. It features a bubbly lead in to a 50 ft slide, into a 15 foot falls. At this water level, we all felt the need for a mouth-piece, but we all had clean runs, and paddled downstream sunny-side up.

Nate Herbeck and Josh Armagost making their way down the lead-in slide on Euphoria Falls

Nate Herbeck and Josh Armagost making their way down the lead-in slide on Euphoria Falls

Myself, Point-of-view, sliding into Euphoria Falls

My turn! Sliding into Euphoria Falls

Looking back up at Euphoria Falls

Looking back up at Euphoria Falls

After a short period of downriver be-bopping, you reach the confluence with the NF Washougal and the next major rapid: Teakettle. Teakettle features a fun entry to a sloping ramp into a decent sized hole. Boof hard left at the bottom for the superman line!

Devin Morton running the lead-in to Teakettle

Devin Morton running the lead-in to Teakettle

Teakettle on a previous run (Photo Copyright Dave Hoffman)

Soon after Teakettle comes Crack in the Earth, the last major rapid on the run, in which the creek drops over a 20 foot falls, and quickly squeezes through a six foot wide crack in the Earth. The falls itself is fairly straight forward, but its a roll of the dice whether you’ll keep your head wet through the crack.

Dave Hoffman dropping the entrance to Crack in the Earth on an earlier visit (Photo copyright: Mike Gottlieb)

Dave Hoffman dropping the entrance falls to Crack in the Earth on an earlier visit (Photo copyright: Mike Gottlieb)

Dropping into Crack in the Earth

Dropping into Crack in the Earth

Devin Morton making his way toward the crack in the earth

Devin Morton making his way toward the crack in the earth

Myself squeezing successfully through the crack

Myself squeezing successfully through the crack

After Crack in the Earth, there is some fun, celebratory class III, quickly followed by the take-out. If you’re a class IV/V paddler with an adventuresome spirit looking for a new run, consider Hagen Gorge.

Some more of the in-between boogie water

Some more of the in-between boogie water

See you on the river,

Kim Becker

About Kim

Kim Becker is a professional whitewater kayaker with a passion for any form of river play. A Bend, Oregon native, she grew up paddling (11 years ago!), and will always have a soft spot in her heart for the Deschutes River. She is 2010 and 2011 Women's Champion of the Western Whitewater Championship Race Series. She paddles for Wave Sport Kayaks, AT Paddles, Kokatat Watersports Wear, Snap Dragon Designs, and FiveTen.